EW Staff
August 27, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Stiff Upper Lips

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
87 minutes
performer
Georgina Cates, Frank Finlay, Prunella Scales
director
Gary Sinyor
distributor
Miramax Home Video
author
Gary Sinyor
genre
Comedy

We gave it an B-

The fancy corsets and even fancier table manners of British period dramas — ”Chariots of Fire,” ”Upstairs Downstairs,” the whole bleedin’ Merchant Ivory repertoire — provide for welcome, if heavy-handed, ”Naked Gun”-style parody in the giddy trifle Stiff Upper Lips, a sort of after-school project for actors who get paid to wear Edwardian costumes in serious endeavors.

Alas, Leslie Nielsen doesn’t play Hudson, the quintessential butler, but the redoubtable Frank Finlay does; he pours tea for a quintessential maiden aunt (Prunella Scales) and her quintessentially sexually hungry niece (Georgina Cates). There are also a twitty, ”Brideshead”-y nephew, an earthy D.H. Lawrencian gardener, a raj-mad tea-plantation owner (Peter Ustinov), and copious jokes needling the blasted class system that continues to earn Ismail Merchant and James Ivory a bundle.

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